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Niklaus Pfyffer (1836-1908)

View from Maison Mottet Apr 1885

Oil on canvas | 29.5 x 40.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 407500

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  • Landscape view of a plain bathed in evening light, edged with trees; surrounded by wooded hills, giving way to snow-capped mountains beyond; with a pond in the foreground, and a house with red roofs partly hidden by trees, on the left

    The Maison Mottet (renamed Villa Victoria), Aix-les-Bains, was an annex of the Hotel de l'Europe at 5 Avenue des Fleurs. Queen Victoria stayed there on three occasions, from 1st to 22nd April 1885, from 6th to 28th April 1887, and from 26th March to 22nd April 1890. Queen Victoria painted a similar view from here, during her first stay (RCIN 980053.c), and Francois Charles Cachoud, painted the view in 1887 (RCIN 408913).

    After initial purchases in 1869, following her visit to Switzerland the previous year, Queen Victoria renewed her contact with Pfyffer in 1885, when she asked him to come to Aix-les-Bains to paint her favourite views. These purchases are not only testified by Pffyffer's accounts book, but also by the surviving correspondence between the artist and the Queen's agents. In April 1885, Pfyffer was requested to produce views from the area of Maison Mottet, and on 8th June he received notice of delivery of this painting (and perhaps of paintings of similar views) from Balmoral. The Queen was very pleased with his work.

    According to the artist's accounts, in 1869 Queen Victoria ordered two oil paintings of the Jungfrau from Interlaken, and the purchase is recorded in correspondence from Windsor, dated 17th April 1869. The work was delivered the following month, to either Buckingham Palace or Balmoral, to the Queen's satisfaction, A view from the Queen's quarters at Pension Wallis was ordered in July 1869, and delivered to Osborne in August. Confirmation of delivery of a view of Mont Blanc was sent on 25 July 1885.

    Niklaus Pfyffer (1836-1908) was born in Lucerne, and trained in Geneva under Jakob Joseph Zelger and Alexander Calame, and under Schirmer in Karlsruhe. He also worked in Düsseldorf. The Royal Collection has seven lanscapes by Pfyffer, dating from between 1868 to 1885 (RCIN 407500, 407875-407879, 403741).
    Provenance

    Commissioned by Queen Victoria, April 1885, and delivered to Balmoral, before 8th June 1885

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    29.5 x 40.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    39.0 x 49.6 x 3.7 cm (frame, external)